Death

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The Guidance That Will Never Come

Published June 13, 2013 by Tabby

Claudia Elaine Kisor, my memaw

I’m not normally a person who dwells on what could have been but the past few years there has been one thing that keeps popping up as I’ve done through several extremely difficult times.

I miss my Memaw. Yes, everyone misses lost relatives but lately I’ve been feeling so cheated. I not only lost someone I was very close to but a person that I feel I needed as I grew up and especially the last few years.

Claudia Elaine Kisor was born in 1946 and passed away on April 19, 1995, from breast cancer. She died just before the Alfred P. Murrah bombing. When we heard/felt the blast from some miles away I did not think of a terrorist attack. I thought it was my world falling apart.

I was eight years old. I was there in the room when she passed. I was told a few days before that she wasn’t going to make it to prepare myself. But there was no preparation possible.

She was my best friend. Since my parents were young when they had me (21 and 18) they worked liked crazy to make things work so I spent the majority of my time either at Memaw’s or at my grandma’s. I was the most attached to them than anyone. My mom used to say she was jealous of how close we were—I never wanted to go home but stay with Memaw.

I remember spending most days waking up early with her, riding in the car to drop my aunt and uncle off for high school and then spending a few hours at the Arrow Café. She knew the owner, who always stood me on a table and announced my birthday. She would visit with people, as she always seemed to know absolutely everyone, and would give me a small notepad with colored paper and a pen with all colors of ink to draw with while she had her coffee. She took me everywhere with her, I was like her shadow. And I loved it.

We were inseparable

Then she was gone. I remember the cancer coming back but at eight years old I didn’t really understand it. I went to every single chemo appointment and watched the nurses draw blood, fascinated. I never realized how bad she felt. I never thought anything of her losing her hair. Now that I’ve seen other people go through chemo as I’ve gotten older, I can’t imagine how she remained active with me despite the suffering she must have endured.

I remember her funeral. The day of her passing and the memorial will forever be burned into my mind. I cried and never stopped. I remember hundreds of carnations and a lot of purple-her favorite color. I didn’t realize how many people were at her service because my parents, aunt, and uncles kept me shielded from the others. Mom later told me there were a lot of people there, which makes sense considering she seemed to know everyone. I still can’t listen to Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” without uncontrollably sobbing.

Eventually the grief subsided. But fourteen later it reared its ugly head again. I was sitting in the LA airport on my way back from Japan and the absolute worst time of my life. I was blindsided by divorce from the person I had given up everything for. I sat in that airport, not wishing to talk to anyone but realizing I’d have to let some people know what had happened.

I sent emails and text messages, vague and short. I didn’t talk to anyone about it for months. Sitting in that airport it hit me, I only wanted to talk to one person—my Memaw. And I couldn’t.

I needed her. She would know what to say. She’d be pissed at first and probably want to go kill him herself. Then she’d help me pick myself up and dust myself off. I had other relatives/friends that were more than happy to do so, but I wanted her. I wanted her perception and her comfort.

I had never felt so cheated in my life. I needed her guidance at that moment but what about the other times in my life? I never had her to run and talk to during my preteens and teen years as I grew and my views of the world changed. I never got to talk to her as a young adult, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted in life.

She would have been sixty-seven this July 30th. She should still be here, laughing at my bad luck, listening to my stories as I experience more life, helping me get past my doubts. Instead I imagine what I think she would have said. I think I do a pretty good job but it’s not the same.

Cancer is a bitch.

Memaw and a tiny me

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Oh What a Loss and Resulting Void: Goodbye to an Old Friend

Published October 11, 2012 by Tabby

Yesterday afternoon I lost my bearded dragon, Gimpy. I had had her since I was nineteen years old and she was about six or seven years old. I’m grieving similar to those who have lost a family member or close friend, because I have. For many of you, you may not know what a bearded dragon is or say, “big deal? It’s just a lizard. It’s not like it was a dog or something.” Gimpy was more than “just a lizard,” and this is why.

I got Gimpy for my nineteenth birthday from my now-ex boyfriend’s parents. We drove to a pet store in Shawnee, OK and I picked out the adorable five inch bearded dragon. I loved her instantly, with her inquisitive eyes. On the car ride home, I noticed she was very still in her too-small box. So I opened it and let her sit in my hand. She was calm and seemed to enjoy both being out of the box and looking at me. I noticed she was missing her back foot and part of her tail. It was an old wound, with no bleeding or sores. The pet store owner had said she wasn’t taken out of the cage with her mother in time and they tend to nip babies. I had a rough childhood too and could commiserate with her. I was asked if I wanted to take her back and exchange her and I felt that would have been like taking a baby back to the hospital after giving birth. Yeah, I was that attached and protective from just the car ride home.

At the time, I lived with the now-ex boyfriend, sharing his bedroom at his parents’ house. I held her and played with her every single day at multiple times. She loved to run on the bed and climb the blanket mountains I’d make her. Eventually, she became part of how I coped with stress and bad times. I’d simply pick her up and carry her around, which always made me feel better.

Another thing that hit me when I lost her was how much I’ve gone through since I was nineteen and that she was with me for all of it. I’m not saying I didn’t have family and friends to lean on, but I often don’t vocalize my feelings, and she was right there in every bedroom I lived in from then on. She was the one I held, snuggled with, and cried with. She saw me at some high points and some of the lowest in my life. She never talked back or told me how stupid I was being but she did sometimes give me the stank eye.

She saw me through three college degrees, often running around on the bed while I did homework. She’d then tire herself out and sleep in the bend of my elbow when she was small or against my neck as she grew. She saw me through five moves and always viewed new surroundings not with fear but curiosity. She saw me through the departure of my now-ex, planning a doomed marriage, and the long and torturous process of abandonment and divorce. She saw me pick myself up and move on my own. She saw me to the happier time in which I now reside. And now she’s gone.

 In a lot of ways she served as the last bridge between now and my nineteen year old self. She reminded me of how much I had survived through, in a good way. So full of personality, I always loved how she never wanted me to put her down. How she tolerated other people in my life (despite always giving them the stank eye) but always loved me most, unconditionally. I will always remember her strong character and the wonderful memories. But the best people, and bearded dragons, leave the biggest voids when they leave us. Goodbye, Gimpy.

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